Today, guest blogger Jeff Crowe, has agreed to write an article for my website, about a topic he is very passionate about: the mini-game.
A mini-game is in one respect a meta term describing a game within a game. It usually functions as an optional distraction from a main storyline or offers unlockable content based on player ability. In total, the feature of the mini-game is attractive, easily styled, easily implemented, and offers replay value. It’s a win-win for the developer!
In another respect a mini-game is a tool used for displaying hardware capabilities and new gaming technology. Gamasutra shows this best with a video on Google’s use of minigames for its Glass technology. The use of mini-games at large is common, and their worth is absolute.
The best part of creating a mini-game is that the options are unlimited, as they are a game unto themselves, whether buried within another or standalone. They do not at all depend on the genre of a mother game. In fact, they could be the farthest genre from the mother game, be somewhat hybridized, use a different resource system, and still make a great addition! Let’s take a look.
HaKox is a difficult and wildly fun minigame appearing in Xenosaga III: Also Sprach Zarathustra in which the goal is to guide an increasing number of instances of any number of each of the main characters to a goal. Speaking to the genre, it resembles a 2D scroller, though in complete, rotating 3D, and incorporates puzzle elements. So, it is a 3D puzzle scroller. The number of characters that reach the goal dictates forward momentum in a level hierarchy architecture. This is wildly different from the serious RPG that Xenosaga over three console titles (among others) exhibits, and still it is quite an addictive addition!
Minigames often also keep the style, if not genre, of the mother game. According to Wikia, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was the first to introduce wagering into its gambling minigames. With the continuation of the franchise, the number of options and change of styles resembles BetFair, a web-based casino that offers poker, arcade games, and other options reminiscent of those provided in the GTA series. The minigames are also used here to the end of keeping with the lifestyle of characters in the game.
Polygon shows how this is also true for the Assassin’s Creed games. Common board games found their way into this action-adventure magnate and serve as a style-keeper and a nice slowdown from the normal gameplay, though just as mentally intense; it is true to period in its entertainment.
Minigames are the premise for most mobile games as well—something else that’s also been taken on the by the aforementioned casino site. It is no secret that mobile development is a gladiator competitor in today’s industry, and truly the mini-game has risen to the occasion. I’ll cite responses to Angry Birds and Candy Crush and say no more on mobile mini-games.
The respect deserved by the mini-game is immense. Its purposes are many and its potential revenue value is immense. Everyone needs a little distraction, while gaming or while living. And for that, kudos, mini-game.